On the Nature of Divine Election

Patrick Schreiner has a put together a good synopsis of the arguments put forward by Brian Abasciano (corporate emphasis/conditional election) and Tom Schreiner (individual emphasis/unconditional election) here.

He includes the two opposing articles (Abasciano’s article is a response to Schreiner’s work some ten years before, and Schreiner’s article is a response to Abasciano’s response).  I want to highly suggest you reading them both.  They will stretch your mind, and that is good.  And depending upon what side of the debate you are on at present, I would encourage you to a cool frame and tempered, teachable disposition in reading the article that exegetes and argues contrary to your position.  As Piper has said, “it is more important to learn what they are saying than to hear what you want to hear” (paraphrase).

I will tell you, also, that after reading them both, I still land somewhat predictably and unhesitatingly with Schreiner’s position.  I won’t bother you with my own thoughts beyond that.  Just read the articles and we can talk later.  And, p.s., I don’t think this is a peripheral issue!

Polygamy In the Bible A Sordid Tale, by Lionel Windsor

A good response to those who care little about doing their due diligence in gaining perspective before asking provocative questions of or making provocative statements about Christianity (along the same lines of Keller’s response concerning why Christians can eat foods off limits in the OT but still hold to the OT’s teaching on homosexuality (of course, the latter teaching holds in the NT also).

Christian leaders were being asked about their opposition to proposals to redefine marriage, and were discussing the Bible’s view of marriage. At one point, the interviewer asked a question which is often brought up in these contexts: Doesn’t the Old Testament condone polygamy? There was, of course, a question behind the question: Since the Old Testament says polygamy is OK, why should we listen to it on any moral issue?

Why did this interviewer think the Old Testament condones polygamy? Clearly he’s expressing a common point of view. Where has it come from? I reckon it stems from the fact that a lot of people in our world don’t really know what the Bible is about. A large number of people (maybe as a result of ineffectual communication by Christian teachers) think the Bible–and especially the Old Testament–is just a list of moral commandments, along with some stories to give us examples of how to be good. So when they do get around to reading the Old Testament, they read it with this moralistic framework in mind. And they find quite a few stories where the lead character is a polygamist. Furthermore, they don’t find any explicit commands that say “Thou shalt not commit polygamy”. So, since they are assuming that the Old Testament is just a book of moral commandments and morality tales, they conclude that the Bible says polygamy is OK.

The problem, of course, is that the Bible–even the Old Testament–is not really a book of commandments and morality tales. The Bible does of course contain commandments, and lots of narratives. But hardly any of the narratives are about morally upright heroes who keep God’s commandments. Most of the narratives are about God’s actions and plans to save immoral human beings. Most of the human characters in Bible stories (even some of the most faithful ones) are morally dubious at best; in fact, many of their activities are downright sordid. You’re not supposed to read these stories as direct examples for your own life; you’re meant to read them to understand God’s actions in the midst of a tragic human history.

Go here for the rest of this instructive post.

Old Testament Law and the Charge of Inconsistency, by Tim Keller

I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.” What I hear most often is “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible?”
It is not that I expect everyone to have the capability of understanding that the whole Bible is about Jesus and God’s plan to redeem his people, but I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological advisor) before leveling the charge of inconsistency.
For the whole newsletter, including Keller’s brief but helpful defense, go here.

My Sermon on Exodus 33.12-34.9: God is the Vision for Christian Mission

Debated on whether to put this up because I do not want to seem contrary to what I preached throughout, namely the glory and, as a consequence, the priority of God’s Name and not our own.  So if you do listen, please, please, please, remember His Name and Person, and be mobilized by His missional glory to global missions.  I am more than hopeful that my name will be forgotten in all things in order that His might be magnified before your hearts.  The main theme was this: The biblical vision of God and His glory is the unfailing vision for Christian mission.

Preached on 4.15.2012 at Huber Heights FBC.  Go here, then to the date just detailed.

2 Great Sermons on Joshua 1-2

Preached Fall of 2007 by Pastor Ryan Fullerton, one of our elders at Immanuel Baptist Church.  These two sermons, part of a larger sermon series on the book of Joshua, were preached the year before we moved to Louisville.  Both brought me to an immediate state of praise and thanksgiving to God.  The sermon on Joshua 1 concerns how God shapes leaders by His Word [in a Book], how leaders are to share what God has taught them from that Book with the congregation, and how the congregation is then to love that word and to encourage their leaders to be strong in that very task.  In this way God advances His kingdom on earth.  The sermon on Joshua 2 tackles God’s wonderful, astounding mercy towards Rahab the prostitute, and ultimately, towards us.  These are impactful sermons.  If you have an hour to take a walk, jog, or just some time out, give these a download and listen to them, and pray the Lord grant you the obedience of faith and great joy in Him by them.  Go here and here.

May God Be So Gracious To Us

Long it has been an excuse for many how their decline in Christian ministry is due to their advancement of their age.  It is as if the long lives of many imminent saints, biblical and historical, are akin to eclipses that are exceptional when they occur though that occurrence be seldom.  I will not argue that gospel ministry should increase as one grows older, for aging and the limitations of both body and mind are the terrible consequences of sin.  Nevertheless, I would seek to encourage not only the elderly saints but all saints by God’s preservation of Moses.

In Deuteronomy 34.7b, it is written that though Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eye was kept undimmed and his vigor unabated.  That struck me sweetly a few days ago and the fragrance of it has stayed with me.  Moses, of course, was a minister of God and the great but imperfect mediator between God and the people of Israel.  His congregation was a most difficult lot.  The vast majority of the “congregants” were unregenerate people.  Only Caleb and his children, and Joshua and his family, and the children of that present evil generation of Israelites, would enter into the Promised Land.  They were stubborn, stiff-necked, rebellious.  They grumbled against his preaching, spat upon his leadership, and fornicated with other gods and peoples.  While he is up in the glory of communion with God, they are falsely worshipping a golden calf made with their own hands.  Moreover, Moses did not have the benefit of a well-structured church facility.  He did not have a beautiful pulpit, or a choir loft, or church programs.  He did not have a church van or a skilled softball team.  Many of the things that we clamor for as necessary and essential to the task of ministry, Moses did without, only he had personal communion, intimate fellowship with God, talking with God face to face.  And, that was more than enough.

But this is about God’s gracious preservation of Moses’ physical and ministerial vigor.  In spite of the difficulties that marked his tenure and stewardship, and the divine knowledge that this people would break covenant with God, and that they would be cast off into exile; in spite of his wilderness wanderings and the many heartbreaks of ministry (see Korah, Aaron and Miriam, his own misguided action, etc.), yet God preserved him for the task that God had called him to.

Brothers and sisters, as you are saints, so you are being equipped to do the work of ministry until the whole church comes into the full maturity of Jesus Christ.  We all have a gospel ministry, a heavenly stewardship.  I would urge upon us all the ideal of increased ministry as the years do pass so quickly by.  And, I would urge upon us this initiative in prayer to God: “Oh, God, would that You who called me by Your own Name and the glory of Christ, would that You also preserve me for gospel ministry, would you graciously uphold the light of my eyes and the vigor necessary for the task that You have assigned for me.  As time does pass, I trust that You will help me to know You and see more of Your glory, and I ask that, if it be so, You would match that increase in sight of You with an increase in zeal and vigor and love for the work of the ministry which bears the Name of Christ Jesus.”

Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eye was undimmed and his vigor unabated.  May God be so gracious to us . . . for His own glory and Name’s sake.

The Fear of the Lord in Joshua 24: A Paper

Go to “Other Writings” tab above.  The only thing lacking is the bibliography.  I hope to have it added soon.